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World Cup Cross Country Race Action from Pietermaritzburg

<b>Manuel Fumic's Rolex doesn't lie. The time has come to kick off the 2014 XC World Cup season!</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Starting line, South Africa-style.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>The weather was hot and the course was already dusty during the training laps.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Nino Schurter leads the pack at the start. One hour and 38 minutes later, the race will be decided.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>First lap, Nino with Julien in tow. </b> -Sven Martin

<b>It was an exciting, drama-filled race today with lots of changes in the front. Now Julien leads Nino.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Nino Schurter's podium finished dashed...</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Leading the race together with Julien Absalon, Nino had a puncture on the second-to-last lap. After getting a new wheel in the Tech Zone, it was full gas for him trying to get back. He lost over 2-minutes and had to settle for 6th.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Julien Absalon was really on it today. Fighting on the uphills and getting loose downhill. A great win for him!</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Julien Absalon double checking everything with his mechanic to make sure his bike is 100% ready for the abusive PMB XC course. His meticulous approach paid off in victory.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Manuel Fumic was elated with 2nd place today, 34-seconds off the top spot and stoked on the technical course.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>The first pedals strokes of the Women's Elite World Cup with five laps and an hour and a half to go.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Jolanda Neff from Switzerland took the win in ladies, 25-seconds up on Dahle Flesjaa.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Jolanda is one of best technical riders out there. With no sign of fear, she rode the direct line in the famous Treehouse rockgarden section that not even all men took.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Team mates Jolanda Neff and Maja Wloszczowska from the Giant Liv Pro XC team go 1 and 3.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Nino Schurter on the hip jump, explaining his hop out of Cairns in two weeks.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Nino was visibly frustrated after the race and needed some time for himself. A break may do him well.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Dan McConnell from Australia, flew into 9th place for Trek Factory Racing.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Jose Hermida, 5th place with a 1:39.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Steeplechasing the rocks.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Tracy Moseley decided to come out to South Africa to race XC after a good winter of training for the EWS. For a non-XC specialist she did well with 29th place.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Tanja Zakelj on the new RockShox RS-1 fork as John Dawson explains.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>John Dawson continues about the 100mm-travel, inverted RS-1 fork.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Benno Willeit explaining why Jaroslav Kulhavy's spare frame will stay wrapped up this weekend.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Benno continues that Jaroslav will return to the World Cup in Cairns.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>While cleaning Jenny Rissveds' bike after her first win in the U23 Women's category, some rainbow stripes appeared. Is it a sign?</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Many riders struggled with the heat on race day. Here Julian Schelb tries to cool down a bit before the race starts. 8th place in U23 Men's today.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Heart and soul. Alexandra Engen of Ghost Factory Racing.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Julie Bresset not yet on form. 8th place and a long season ahead.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Rebecca Henderson of Trek Factory Racing, 16th place and 6:38 back. She's looking forward to racing in her home country in 2 weeks.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>During the race there were no doubts about Jolanda not winning. Her lead was always substantial.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Jolanda Neff is really self confident as World Champion of U23 last year. When asked how it felt to lead an Elite race she replied laughing, "that's how it was planned."</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Giant LIV Pro XC TEAM with 2 podium positions today.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Riders looking for every bit of shade to warm up on the rollers.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Nino going 100% in the technical like always</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Jose Hermida back on the podium. Never count him out</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Julien preparing for the podium with his 27th World Cup XC win. Amazing.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Julien Absalon, a happy winner.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Your Pietermaritzburg World Cup Elite Men's XC podium from left to right - Ondrej Cink, Manuel Fumic, Julien Absalon, Maxime Marotte, Jose Hermida</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>The World Cup circus is out of here. See you in two weeks in Cairns, Australia.</b> -Marius Maasewerd - A BIG THANKS TO MARIUS AND SVEN FOR THE FANTASTIC COVERAGE. STAY TUNED FOR MORE IN TWO WEEKS!

Dust, heat and an extraordinarily technical track greeted the racers for the first World Cup Cross Country race of 2014 in Pietermaritzburg. After an hour and a half of battling, Julien Absalon collected his 27th World Cup victory and first-year Elite racer, Jolanda Neff, continued here winning ways from her U23 career with a number 1 finish. Enjoy the dirt and drama with this photo story from Marius Maasewerd and Sven Martin.

View Pietermaritzburg World Cup Cross Country Race Results

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